During the the hot August bank holiday weekend we repeated a walk from two years ago, starting with a bus ride to Jack Bridge. As we walked up the lane, boisterous Scousers occupied a holiday home garden interrupting the otherwise peaceful scene. Thistle fluff, beech nuts, and bright berries adorned the hedgerows, with glimpses of a bright blue Colden Water beneath.
Now a familiar landmark, I spotted Strines Bridge quite early on and as we neared, we took the dark narrow path into private gardens to get nearer. Infested with nettles and rather slippy in places, I trod carefully alongside the brook and managed not to get stung or fall which was quite a feat. Passing through the small gate, the old packhorse trail was discernible as a delicate shade of green among a field of reds and pale yellows. We braved the tussocks and barbed wire to get a better view of the sparkling water. As I crossed the bridge, a perfectly formed dandelion clock seemed to dwarf the diminuitive stone curves. We mused about where the path led on the other side but deduced it would be quite a short walk to the village.
Returning to the lane, we continued until we found the stile into the meadow. The diagonal path was edged with tiny purple flowers and seed heads resembling pennies.
We proceeded through the woods and rickety gates and back onto tarmac near Land Farm. What sounded like a combine turned out to be a lawnmower – what a racket! It was so distracting I almost missed the pixie castle, obscured as it was by vegetation.
I had forgotten about the climb up School Land Lane, and paced myself, picking the odd blackberry for sustenance. At the top, posh new signs indicated local landmarks. We turned right on Edge Lane and chanced the grassy path to High Gate Farm. Even more overgrown with nettles, this time I suffered several stings! May’s Farm Shop looked busy. As a family ate ice creams, the holidaying Scousers turned up, chugging beer, and left with crates of the stuff. After a lunch of pies and soft drinks, we decided to top the meal off with lollies. We discussed options for our return route and agreed to go via Colden Clough rather than Heptonstall. Enjoying the cooling lollies as we walked downwards, I observed we had never eaten ice cream on a country walk before – a definite highlight!
Luckily, we located a slight detour avoiding the stingiest path and proceeded to Colden village. Opposite an old barn, I observed the ‘junkyard’ had been cleared quite a lot. We turned right at Smith Lane, taking us back to Jack Bridge, where we walked up to Hudson Lane and down into Hebble Hole. New steps were framed by fading heather. I expected the beauty spot to be packed but only one extended family occupied the area and I realised it was teatime already. A woman swam with a dog hindering views downstream. We crossed the clapper bridge onto the lower path, and stopped on the flat rock for a short rest. Littered with beach nuts, we joked about harvesting them but they didn’t look tasty.
Up the steps, red leaves littered the ground as sun rays beamed through tall branches. In the ‘garlic fields,’ the rotten stump now resembled bare legs. Unusual porcelain mushrooms grew on nearby tree trunks, where the bark had been stripped. At Lumb Mill, I was slightly upset to see my favourite sycamore almost bare. Blighted leaves littered the ground. I had not noticed this elsewhere but Phil said he had and that it was not only affecting sycamores. On the last stretch along the rough track, it started to feel very humid making me sweaty and tired. Back home, I collapsed on the sofa while Phil made coffee. I had now completed a walk two days’ running without an ankle bandage which was good going although it did ache a bit prompting me to take it easy for the next couple of days.
More photos at: https://1drv.ms/u/s!AjkK19zVvfQti8RzSgdxfsO7cHxeig?e=sKDY6t